Inspiration is a beautiful thing, but the realities of business mean you need to maintain your performance through discipline. You cannot rely on inspiration to help overcome the obstacles you encounter on the path to greatness. I learned this quickly during my military training: when the 40-pound pack that’s strapped to you as you march through the desert begins to feel heavier, you have to hyper-focus on your steps forward through willpower, not inspiration. Developing strong discipline is the only way you can commit to the grueling work that comes with entrepreneurship.
In business, and in everything, you will hit walls. Barriers will keep you from accomplishing all that you can. Especially with the unexpected circumstances this year, it is easy to let yourself fall into a slump. By mastering discipline and reaching your true potential, you can attack your work more effectively than before! Here are a few strategies you may want to consider:
Develop a routine
Get comfortable with this harsh reality: you are only as good as your accomplishments. As an entrepreneur, you need to structure your time properly so you can make the most of your days. Every living person in the world has the same number of available hours in a day, but you should strive to get more done in that same period of time. That’s why you need to structure your day. First, you need the whole picture. What goals are you working toward? How long do you have to accomplish those goals?
Once you have those pieces of the puzzle, you need to break down the tasks that will enable you to reach your goals and work on them consistently. Your routine, of course, should be personalized. You need to structure it in a way where you get the best performance possible out of yourself. Tackle important and time-sensitive tasks first, and, as hard as it may be, set aside time for yourself outside of your business. If you are not giving yourself space outside of your business, tunnel vision will limit your productivity. This leads perfectly to the next point.
How well do you know yourself? What time of day are you most productive? When are you least productive? If you do not know the answers to these questions, you will have difficulty keeping your performance consistent. When you are your own boss, it’s easy to make excuses, and it is also quite easy to ignore the effect outside factors can have on your productivity. Here’s a good thought experiment you can use to review the expectations you set for yourself: imagine you were replaced with the most capable and well-equipped worker you know. Would they be able to successfully produce results? Most entrepreneurs I know are not scared to put in the work, but you need to be just as wary of putting in too much work. No matter who you are, if you work 20-hour days every day for months on end, you will see your productivity diminish. This does not mean you need to scale down the amount of work you do drastically. Just don’t forget that you are human, so be realistic with yourself.
Keep ideas flowing
Some people, including me, take pride in surpassing limitations. Many entrepreneurs convince themselves that they need to commit every waking hour to working on their business. This is what leads to a slump in the first place! Even if you are able to train yourself to hyper-focus on your tasks and your productivity does not diminish, you are still hurting yourself if you only focus on your business. You cannot develop ideas in a vacuum. If you are not learning and examining new ideas, you are squandering the opportunity you have to learn from others. As a student of business, I devote at least 10 hours a week to new ideas. Podcasts, documentaries, informative articles, and discussions with friends who are entrepreneurs keep my mind stimulated so I can do the best thinking possible when it comes to my business. When you get comfortable with your business it becomes difficult to think outside the box, and that is why you need to explore new ideas. You have a responsibility to your business to not fixate on it too much.
Ultimately, business is the art of using your willpower to overcome obstacles. It is easy to measure sweat equity as the key indicator for effort. When you are developing your own business, you need to remember that discipline is the only way to achieve your overall success. If you develop your routine, manage yourself, and keep yourself mentally stimulated, you’ll have a much higher likelihood of success.